Washington Post Examines Lobbying Efforts of Health Information Technology Industry
The Washington Post on Saturday examined the role of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in lobbying for the national adoption of health information technology as part of health reform efforts. According to the Post, HIMSS has collaborated with various allies, including technology vendors and research groups, "in a sophisticated, decade-long campaign to shape public opinion and win over Washington's political machinery."
HIMSS in the early part of this decade forged a "strategic alliance" with the Center for Information Technology Leadership, a not-for-profit health IT research group in Massachusetts, to develop and distribute data reports on the cost efficiency and benefits of health IT, the Post reports. CITL also had sponsorship ties with several health and technology companies, including Google, Microsoft, Kaiser Permanente and Siemens Medical Solutions. In 2004, CITL issued a report that concluded in part that a national health IT system could reduce spending by as much as $77.8 billion by limiting drug prescribing errors and notifying providers of more cost-effective drug alternatives.
According to the Post, the findings of the report were used by the Obama administration in developing the $787 billion federal economic stimulus package, which included billions in new spending for the creation and adoption of health IT systems. Although a
Congressional Budget Office report found that the assumptions of CITL report were "overly optimistic" -- a follow-up CBO analysis projected that electronic health records would reduce health care spending by $17 billion over 10 years -- the health IT measures in the stimulus package "represented a triumph" for HIMSS, "whose members now stand to gain billions in taxpayer dollars," the Post reports.
The Post notes that HIMSS' "sudden success shows how the economic crisis created a remarkable opening for a political and financial windfall: the enactment of a sweeping new policy with no bureaucratic delays and virtually no public debate about an initiative aimed at transforming a sector that accounts for more than a sixth of the American economy" (O'Harrow, Washington Post, 5/16).
Please note: The Kaiser Family Foundation is not associated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries.